How I Shot And Edited It - Layers, Oman - Digital Photography School
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How I Shot And Edited It – Layers, Oman

The image above was shot in Oman near sunset and I have received a number of requests to explain how it was shot and processed. I hope this post helps you understand the process I used so it may be of service to you.

Starting at the start, I got lucky. This image is not too far off what I captured while standing on the side of the road, sweating in 100F+ heat. My girlfriend and I were driving the mountainous regions of Oman on holiday with very few particular objectives so it was hapenstance that we came upon this scene about an hour before the sun set. This shot is facing East to North with the sun coming in slightly off to the side.

The shot was taken with a Canon 7D and Canon 28-300mm L lens. The settings were: ISO 100, 235mm, f/9 and 1/800the of a second. No tripod was used.

I downloaded the image into Lightroom 4 and it was pretty decent from the start. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

I was happy with the range in the capture. Here is the histogram for it at the start.

After removing some spots that showed up with the f/9 setting, I adjusted the Tone Curve to bring in the white and black point.

This expanded the histogram a little.

So far, so good. A few more spots showed up and I removed them (I’m not showing that part so as to not completely bore you). I also adjusted the Luminance Smoothing by +12 because, even with ISO, I wanted things even smoother when it came to tone.

It was at this time I decided to use Seim Effects Silver Shadows 2 to change the image to black and white. Having played with this product for a while, I knew the Dynamic Silver effects would render a great result. There are over 100 presets and I’m not patient enough to go through them all, so I stick with a few tried and true favorites. In this case, it was specifically 3:01 Dynamic Silver I.

Then, I gave a slight curve to the Tone Curve to accentuate the contrast. I have had a problem as of late of going overboard with curves, so I kept this one subtle.

The curve looked like this and the result is after it.

It’s hard to tell the difference without flipping between the two images, I realize, but that is good in my book.

I found another spot (tip: clean your sensor before your next trip) and then decided on one last change. I brought the black and white points even more to stretch the tonal range as such:

Not every photo needs to have a ton of edits in post production. And thankfully this image was pretty nice to start with, fitting well within the sensors capabilities.

The problem with an edit like this is it’s impossible to please everyone. After I posted this image on my Facebook page, I received requests for the original color version with edits. To that end, I submit it here for your opinion.

Which do you like better, the B&W version or the color?

 

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • http://500px.com/DanielMansel Dann

    color, it gives the image more depth. The b&w seems almost too abstracts almost as though it were nothing more than a layering of torn paper though I suppose in its own right that provides an interesting statement about the land.

  • frank

    I would go for the color version. I like the wamth in the different shades of brown.

  • http://www.yeesha-design.nl/photostudio Yeesha

    Choosing was difficult so I Stared at the two images. Lay them aside and look again. Did this a couple of times and I realised that the colored one was the one my eyes where atracted to. It is some what more mystiek, more dreamy. I like it verg Mich! My choice? The colored One ;) Thanks for explaining and showing.

  • http://Www.suburbaphobe.wordpress.com Nikki

    Color. Immediately, it takes me there, looking toward the distance through the haze of a hot afternoon. The b&w is graphically interesting but doesn’t necessarily look like a landscape to me.

  • Scottc

    Agree that it’s a tough choice, both have much to admire.

  • HB

    Its a difficult three way choise for me. The “colour” version is virtually monochromatic, tones of gold versus tones of silver. With the increased contrast they’re both luminous and the untouched original is very dreamy. It appears you can’t go wrong when you start with a great image.

  • http://www.portraitinspiration.com Jai Catalano

    Wow you have a 28 3400 mm lens. Now that has got to be expensive.

    I like the color.

  • Riska

    love the color. It looks like dreamy but yet feel real.

  • http://peterwestcarey.com Peter West Carey

    Jai,
    I can see into the center of the sun with that thing. :) Thanks for the catch, edited.
    pwc

  • Shaun

    Hard call…Im going with B&W. I think it just looks sharper.

  • ccting

    wow.. learned something new… a great article.

  • timgray

    B&W is far better to me. The crispness almost makes it feel like it’s Noir.

  • Mark Woolridge

    B&W is much better

  • http://www.myfedoraphoto.com Neal Fedora

    The B&W image. Both are great, but the lines and tonal range really comes out in the B&W one in my opinion. Simple photos really have a bit more pop sometimes as a B&W and this one does. Love the shot.

  • Juan

    The black and white image is really good, but I kind of like the color one better because it seems to have a little bit more texture, plus it looks like sepia.

  • http://fogeyeview.tumblr.com Adrienne Johnson

    I quite like them next to one another. They are completely different and they compliment one another well. I also think either of them would make an excellent textile print (for use in clothing vs as a display peace).

  • http://rafaelgandi.tk rafael g

    definitely the color one.

  • Lynn Burlbaw

    As a person who has been to Oman, the B&W version speaks to me of the country I saw. Without the knowledge of the location of the picture – could actually be a constructed image – I would choose the colored one for serenity and the B&W one for energy.

  • terryel

    When I taught photography at secondary school I asked my students to produce a test strip with ten shades of grey. One of the students managed sixteen shades. She also made several like your image composed by tearing card profile masks of various scenes. Like both images depends on whether you prefer cold tones or warm tones. Guess you can tell my age from that remark!

  • Brad H.

    Depends entirely on the context of your shot. If you group with other B&W from the trip, the B&W. If you are going to group with other color shots, the B&W would be terribly out of place. I like them both. Congrats.

  • Jon

    I would go with the color one. I can actually picture myself in the locale, whereas the b&w version seems so sterile as to not be real.

  • Dave

    Terrific shot. The B&W is the hands-down favorite for me. Question: Since I’m not bored by even the slightest detail, could you mention the tool, technique, system (Lightroom?) you used in removing the spots? Many thanks.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/hima4ever/ ibraheemkurdieh

    B&w

Some older comments

  • Dave

    November 18, 2012 03:38 am

    Terrific shot. The B&W is the hands-down favorite for me. Question: Since I'm not bored by even the slightest detail, could you mention the tool, technique, system (Lightroom?) you used in removing the spots? Many thanks.

  • Jon

    November 4, 2012 03:51 pm

    I would go with the color one. I can actually picture myself in the locale, whereas the b&w version seems so sterile as to not be real.

  • Brad H.

    October 29, 2012 12:05 pm

    Depends entirely on the context of your shot. If you group with other B&W from the trip, the B&W. If you are going to group with other color shots, the B&W would be terribly out of place. I like them both. Congrats.

  • terryel

    October 26, 2012 07:04 pm

    When I taught photography at secondary school I asked my students to produce a test strip with ten shades of grey. One of the students managed sixteen shades. She also made several like your image composed by tearing card profile masks of various scenes. Like both images depends on whether you prefer cold tones or warm tones. Guess you can tell my age from that remark!

  • Lynn Burlbaw

    October 26, 2012 09:59 am

    As a person who has been to Oman, the B&W version speaks to me of the country I saw. Without the knowledge of the location of the picture - could actually be a constructed image - I would choose the colored one for serenity and the B&W one for energy.

  • rafael g

    October 25, 2012 11:13 am

    definitely the color one.

  • Adrienne Johnson

    October 24, 2012 06:13 am

    I quite like them next to one another. They are completely different and they compliment one another well. I also think either of them would make an excellent textile print (for use in clothing vs as a display peace).

  • Juan

    October 24, 2012 05:54 am

    The black and white image is really good, but I kind of like the color one better because it seems to have a little bit more texture, plus it looks like sepia.

  • Neal Fedora

    October 23, 2012 03:11 pm

    The B&W image. Both are great, but the lines and tonal range really comes out in the B&W one in my opinion. Simple photos really have a bit more pop sometimes as a B&W and this one does. Love the shot.

  • Mark Woolridge

    October 23, 2012 02:34 am

    B&W is much better

  • timgray

    October 22, 2012 11:46 pm

    B&W is far better to me. The crispness almost makes it feel like it's Noir.

  • ccting

    October 22, 2012 07:12 pm

    wow.. learned something new... a great article.

  • Shaun

    October 22, 2012 03:46 pm

    Hard call...Im going with B&W. I think it just looks sharper.

  • Peter West Carey

    October 22, 2012 03:07 pm

    Jai,
    I can see into the center of the sun with that thing. :) Thanks for the catch, edited.
    pwc

  • Riska

    October 22, 2012 01:16 pm

    love the color. It looks like dreamy but yet feel real.

  • Jai Catalano

    October 22, 2012 12:40 pm

    Wow you have a 28 3400 mm lens. Now that has got to be expensive.

    I like the color.

  • HB

    October 22, 2012 12:13 pm

    Its a difficult three way choise for me. The "colour" version is virtually monochromatic, tones of gold versus tones of silver. With the increased contrast they're both luminous and the untouched original is very dreamy. It appears you can't go wrong when you start with a great image.

  • Scottc

    October 22, 2012 07:52 am

    Agree that it's a tough choice, both have much to admire.

  • Nikki

    October 22, 2012 07:42 am

    Color. Immediately, it takes me there, looking toward the distance through the haze of a hot afternoon. The b&w is graphically interesting but doesn't necessarily look like a landscape to me.

  • Yeesha

    October 22, 2012 07:10 am

    Choosing was difficult so I Stared at the two images. Lay them aside and look again. Did this a couple of times and I realised that the colored one was the one my eyes where atracted to. It is some what more mystiek, more dreamy. I like it verg Mich! My choice? The colored One ;) Thanks for explaining and showing.

  • frank

    October 22, 2012 06:28 am

    I would go for the color version. I like the wamth in the different shades of brown.

  • Dann

    October 22, 2012 06:12 am

    color, it gives the image more depth. The b&w seems almost too abstracts almost as though it were nothing more than a layering of torn paper though I suppose in its own right that provides an interesting statement about the land.

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